I had been reading this on and off and decided to finally go for it and finish it. Here’s my issue. I am not religious. I am not an atheist and I’m interested in religion in the sense that their ideas and rituals (wrong word, but hey) are interesting to me over actually believing what they preach and following them myself.
I will never fall into any religion. I like science. I always have done, always will do. I do like crossovers of the two (probably a large reason as to why I liked Dan Brown’s ‘Angels & Demons’ despite being fictional) but for some reason when I fall to either side of the spectrum with certainty, I don’t like it.
Take, for example, Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time . The actual content was interesting to me, and it was nothing I hadn’t remotely heard of before, but I liked the details of it and getting a fuller picture of certain aspects of science. But, there was just something about reading it in bulk that seemed off-putting, and he was giving it an academic way.
Dawkins is arrogant and smug, and it really rubs off in his writing. I admire the fact he’s resolute in his beliefs and doesn’t backtrack certain elements to pander to those who believe in religion, but the book was really difficult to get into because all too often I’d get really into a point and he’d make some smug comment. One that springs to mind (quite early on, so this is just a jist of it) was that there should be a God of smelliness based on the principle that God is known as that for being the ultimate expression of good, so that someone would be the ultimate example of smelliness and therefore would be God. I remember reading it and thinking: are you serious? I understand his point and why he said it, to undermine the principle of the religious idea, but I just found it stupid.
But then again, niceness doesn’t sell a book to me either. The Dalai Lama seems lovely and brimming with optimism, but reading The Art Of Happiness felt like being spoon fed rainbow dust from a Unicorn. I can’t handle such optimism (I am, by all accounts, somewhere between a realist and a pessimist), but I also can’t handle straight fact and literal speech when it’s being served with a dose of arrogance from someone so unlikeable.
So, the book had some valid points. I’ve not changed my opinion (but, not really being religious, this was hardly going to be a huge eye opener) and I think this book would have been far better if he presented himself and his opinion better, because there’s just something about the tone that is off-putting.